Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happy Saturday!

Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday; the birthday of the church. If you are part of a liturgical denomination then the color of the day is red. I am preaching in Rocket and Palmer tomorrow. The title of my sermon is “God is in the House and the House is Gonna Rock!” I ask your prayers as I deliver this message to these dear congregations.

Prayer: “Father, I confess that I am nothing without You. You are the Creator; I’m merely the creature. You are the Redeemer; I am the redeemed. You are my everything. Amen”

1 John 2: 15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of this world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Wow! Tonight’s scripture passage is pretty tough as is the meditation that goes along with it. In short, when we love the world, it squeezes out the love we have for God. On the other hand, the less we love the world the more our love for God increases. Satan is the author of sin and is constantly on the prowl, tempting us through our eyes and through pride. One of the quotes from my meditation speaks of Satan saying that Satan ”offers pleasure and never the price tag.” Satan uses our eyes as the front door to which Satan enters, offering us desires that we really do not need. Satan then enters through our sinful pride. “Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow, and the parent from which all the other sins come.” There is nothing that Satan can offer that we can take with us and there is nothing he can offer that will give us everlasting peace or eternal love.

Sometimes we think we are on a pretty high spiritual plane and so are beyond Satan’s reach. I believe that is where the issue of pride comes in. We will never be out of Satan’s reach until we are united with the Father in heaven, but until that time we can do a couple of things to help keep Satan behind us. First, we can keep facing forward, never looking right or left, just keeping our eyes fixed on the One who created us for His own pleasure and who loves us most. Next, we can stop living on the faith that runs “paycheck to paycheck.” That is a faith build on worldly measure. We need to live in God’s will for our lives each and every day and His supply of the things we need will always be readily at hand.

Take joy in the journey. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When we pray tonight let us ask for forgiveness when we look to the world for satisfaction and ask God to help us to seek His face and will for our lives and keep Satan and His empty promises out of our sight. Thank you mighty and faithful prayer warriors. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Friday!

Bruce had a carotid artery sonogram this morning. The test went very well and showed no abnormalities or blockages. Praise God!

Prayer: “Dear God, every good and perfect gift comes from You. My heart is full of deep gratitude for Your graciousness toward me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Luke 6: 38 ”Give, and it will be given to you; good measure; pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you can use, it will be measuring back to you.”

I am asking you to imagine a ten gallon fish aquarium…fill it will rocks and you will discover it is not full. Now pour in gravel and shake it down and you will still discover it is not full. Now add sand and shake it down again and it still is not completely filled. Finally fill the tank with water and shake it down and press it with your hands. Now I think the tank is full.

God gives us His gifts of grace, love, tender mercies and forgiveness each day in full measure. He gave us salvation for all eternity through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. His gracious gifts are in continuous supply. Since God’s gifts are being continuously given we are overflowing with love. We have so much that we need to share those same gifts with those who do not receive his gifts because they do not know Him. We can share the greatest gift we will ever be given; the love of Jesus Christ. We can share Christ’s love by being kind to someone even and especially when it is difficult. We can forgive someone who has hurt or wronged us because we have been forgiven. We can share what we have in possessions with those who have little. What we give of ourselves God promises in Luke 19: 17 to give back to us in greater amounts than what we have given. And all He asks in return is that we believe in Him and Who He sent and to tell someone else. Seems pretty easy compared to the cross.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When you pray tonight remember the gifts of God and share them with others. Love you all and thank you mighty and faithful prayer warriors, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Thursday!

The last of the boxes and supplies from my classroom placed in storage today. I was amazed that these items filled up a 5’ by 10’ storage unit we rented.

Bruce has a carotid artery ultrasound and lab work being done tomorrow. It is a hospital procedure. The doc says that because the arteries to his heart were clear he is expecting that the carotid artery will be clear as well. I am not sure how long we will be there. Please be in prayer as we continue to prepare for Bruce’s surgery.

Prayer: “God, my life is Yours. You created and redeemed me. All that I have comes from You and belongs to You. You deserve my very best today because You gave me Your best at Calvary. Amen.”

Luke 12: 15 and 21 “He said to them, “Take heed and be aware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses…Life is more than food , and the body is more than clothing.”

In Luke 12 we find the story of the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler had accumulated so many things that he did not have enough storage space to hold it all. So he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger barns that would hold more possessions. The bottom line is that his possessions owned him and not the other way around. This young man was trying to fill a space in his life with “stuff” and there was never enough stuff. The rich young ruler thought that accumulated wealth would bring him happiness.

Jesus’ message is so different. Jesus tells us that life is more than food, clothing and stuff. These are temporal things. These things will pass away and will have to be replaced. The love of Jesus is eternal. Once we are in a relationship with Jesus the holes in our lives begin to fill up with his love, grace, forgiveness and tender mercies and the need for so many temporal things changes. We need to spend our lives seeking the kingdom of God first and live for eternity. When we do that, the holes we are trying to fill ourselves with - the things of this earth - will be filled with joy and peace. Then we really learn what ownership is all about. With God, what we own is not what is important, it is what we offer back to Him for His use and good purpose that is important. It is time to clean out the closet!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When you pray tonight pray for those who do not have and see what you can share. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

This was my first official day of retirement. I think I did pretty well. First I slept until almost 7:00. That is a bit later than 5:15. After coffee with Lamar, Bruce and I took a walk while it was sort of cool. Then I found another year of teaching service that had been overlooked and set the wheels in motion to purchase that year so they will refigure my monthly annuity. I had lunch with a dear friend then went with Bruce to the surgeon. It has been quite a day!!

Due to the doc’s heavy schedule Bruce will not have the surgery until about the second week in July. They do not schedule until two weeks out so it will be a few weeks until we have a definite surgery date. So for now Bruce is not to get over-heated, he is to stay hydrated and continue on his medication regimen. I promise to keep you posted.

Prayer: “Lord, You made me. You have given me purpose. May praise to You always be on my lips. No matter what my circumstances are, may I glorify You through praise. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen.”

Psalm 148: 5-6 “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever. He made a decree which shall not pass away.”

Everything in creation has the responsibility to praise our Creator. At His command we were created. At His pleasure the rocks, hills, sky and trees were created. These inanimate objects praise God daily by doing what they were created to do. The stars were created to shine and they praise their Creator by shining. It is by a star that the Wise men were led to the Christ child. What an act of praise! The trees praise God when they provide fruit and shade. Throughout this psalm, all of the components of creation are described as instruments of praise.

We have been redeemed by the cross of salvation and not only promised forgiveness of our sins and hope for eternal life with Christ, but also the promise that the One Who created us desires a strong relationship with us through His own power in the Holy Spirit. We have every reason to praise God. Let us take joy in praising Him each and every day even for the tiniest things like when your husband brings you a glass of Crystal Light when he is just about ready to settle in for the night. Give thanks with a grateful heart and praise God!

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayer. When you pray remember to praise first, ask for forgiveness, pray for yourself and pray for others. God works His will in us when we ask, living His accomplishing works in us and offering up praise each day. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.
Happy Tuesday!

My goal for the day was to finish with room cleaned out and all paperwork completed. Mission accomplished. All that was left was to hug each teacher good-bye, tell them I loved them and walk out the door. The latter was far more difficult. There were many tears this afternoon as I said good-bye to dear friends and the finest teachers with whom I have ever been associated.

I am at total peace about retiring. After the scripture passage from last evening I was assured by God’s Word itself that He had put His stamp of approval on this and it is time for me to move on. After arriving at home it was the strangest feeling with my head knowing that I left behind an empty room - that place I have spent each day for the last ten years with so many friends whom I now call family. But the strangest feeling of all was knowing that I did not have a deadline to meet. There were no papers to grade or lessons to plan or parents to contact. I am not sure what to do now.

There is always a silence no matter how brief at the end of the school day. It is quiet, but there is an anticipation that before long there will be the sound of children’s voices again in just a few hours. The silence at the close of the school year is different. It is a peaceful quiet and almost a restful quiet, still in the knowledge that in several weeks the children will once again return. But today the quiet was deafening. There were no pictures on my walls or any of the trademarks that defined my classroom. There was an echo of emptiness and the only voice I heard was my own and a finality that was sad and lonely. I will be just fine, today was just a bit strange.

Prayer: “Father, my heart’s desire today is to worship You, not just with my words, but with my life. May it be a holy and acceptable living sacrifice to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

Proverbs 8: 35-36 “Whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul, all of those who hate me love death.”

According to my meditation tonight, Proverbs 8 is all about wisdom. “Wisdom is to live life with distinguished proficiency. It is living life with the skill to navigate through the tough stuff. Wisdom helps us make sound decisions and have appropriate boundaries that keep us safe, out of trouble and danger. Wisdom teaches us to hate evil and love what is good. Therefore, our most important acquisition in life is wisdom.”

Today’s passage of scripture teaches that the difference between living with wisdom or without wisdom is literally a matter of life and death. Those who find wisdom find life and those who sin against wisdom do so at their own peril. The truth is that when we are experiencing a lack of peace the lack of peace is caused by the poor choices we make. Wisdom is necessary to living a life with God and an abundant life with Christ. God desires to give us wisdom and according to the writer of this meditation God desires to give wisdom to all who ask for it. If we want wisdom then we must pray for it. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (6) But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.”

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. When we pray let us be bold and ask for the wisdom to live life His way instead of our way. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

PS As for Bruce’s doctor’s appointment…it was postponed due to an all night surgery performed by our surgeon. We will be contacted soon as to the new appointment. I will keep you posted. Peace, gc

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Monday!

I am now a retired teacher. It is a life goal I have had since I guess I was 6 years old and walked into the first grade for the first time. God blessed me by allowing me to live and serve with my heart’s desire.

My class, along with several parents, gave me the sweetest retirement party. In true first grade style, Capri Sun fruit drinks and cookies were served because it was the last day of school it was a bit noisier than usual! It was wonderful and somewhat emotional. I put on a movie today while I wrote each of them a little note and as they left at the end of the day I hugged each of them and told them I loved them.
That is the way I always dismiss my children on the last day of school, but today I think I hugged each of them just a second or two longer. On the way home from school I spent time in prayer thanking God for allowing me to spend the last 30 years in His service teaching children. It has been a great ride. Then,when I got home my dear family took me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Gloria’s.

Tomorrow will be an emotional day as well. Tomorrow I say good- bye to those with whom I have had daily contact for the past 10 years. I am completely at peace about leaving the teaching field, but leaving my friends is a little tougher than I thought it would be. At the end of the day today, my teaching colleague played, “Turn out the lights…the party’s over.” I laughed all the way down the hall!

Prayer: “Father, You know what type of day awaits me. Allow me to face today full of Your Spirit, trusting totally in your grace. In all I do and say, I want to glorify You today. Amen.”

Philippians 3: 13, 14 “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

When I read this passage tonight, I promise to you that it was the next page in my devotional book. I asked Bruce, “Do you think God just does this to me? I mean so often God places scripture in front of me at the exact moment I need it.” He said, “That’s because you are paying attention.”

How appropriate is the passage for today. I am closing down one life and beginning another. In my Congregational leadership class the professor spoke of the different kinds of calls that we receive. First is the general call to service that we all receive when we enter into relationship with Christ. Then there is the secret call by God given to those He desires to serve Him as pastors. Finally, there is the ecclesiastical call in which the laying on of hands by pastors, bishops etc…commission us to the work of the cross as an ordained servant.

As I read this tonight it was as if God was saying that I have accomplished in you all I have intended as an educator and now I have other work for you to do. Even though it is hard to leave teaching behind, if I am to be obedient to the Word then I must leave behind apples, crayons, and children’s books. I must learn a new language. I must learn the language of servanthood. I will learn to listen. I will learn to read differently once again and instead of deciphering first grade writing, someone else will read my fledgling academic writing and help me to improve. It is my prayer that my professors will be patient with me and be willing to teach me the craft of servanthood and help move me forward in this ministry. The passage says, “to press forward to the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Just as in any change there will be struggles and victories. I ask your prayers as I enter this new journey in my life. Please pray for my teachers that they will be patient with me and for me that I will be a good learner.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Remember when you pray that God is always with us in the midst of the struggle and is there to celebrate when we overcome. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blessed Sunday to you all!

What a day! I preached at two churches this morning and spent the remainder of the day grading my last papers and pushing my grades (posting the grades) in the program. There are many things I will miss about teaching, but grading papers is not one of them.

I preached today on the passage from John 17:1-14. It is a passage I had never read before. It is a prayer that Jesus prays with all of the disciples present. This prayer occurs in the moments between the Lord’s Supper and the time Jesus leads the disciples to the garden for prayer. Jesus knows His hour has come and that He must let the disciples go. For three years He has trained them, walked with them and taught them. He has equipped them for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. He taught and trained them to preach, teach, heal and baptize in His name and to get the message of salvation, love and forgiveness to the entire world.

Jesus’ time on earth was nearing an end and now He must move on to another job. His job on earth was done and it was time for the work of the Holy Spirit to begin. In my sermon I sang the old Don Meredith tune, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end. Turn out the lights the party’s over and tomorrow starts the same old thing again.”

Tomorrow at 3:00 I will officially be a retired teacher. This party may be over, but it will not be the same old thing again. God has another place for me to be and other tasks for me to do. Just as God accomplished all He planned in Jesus and Jesus accomplished all He planned in the disciples; God will accomplish in me all of His plans as I continually surrender my will over to Him.

God works His will in each of us just like He did in Jesus 2000 years ago and just as Jesus worked His will in those disciples. Let us surrender our hearts and wills over to the One who created us and loves us so much that He gave us our salvation. Allow Him to accomplish His will in each of us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Please continue to pray for our friend C.D. Haun and Bruce and little Cambri. Remember when you pray to give God the glory and praise for all of the blessings you have received. Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe and I believe God.